I didnâ€™t have time to Google, â€śhow to survive a fall,â€ť but based on what I retained from watching Looney Tunes as a kid, I knew I had to bend my knees and maximize my surface area in a spread eagle position if I ever found my myself in a free fall. Itâ€™s impossible for me to peer over the second-floor railing of the mallâ€™s food court without thinking about songs I would like played at my funeral (Tom Petty’s, “Free Fallin’” always pops in my head), so for me to voluntarily climb into a man lift recently and be hoisted 60 feet into the air on a blustery, early spring day is a little bit like asking a vegetarian if she’d prefer a Big Mac or a chicken leg for lunch. Both will make you hurl.
A touch of acrophobia wasnâ€™t going to keep me from having a memorable experience or from achieving my goal: to use a unique vantage point in showcasing the roof and exterior building materials of the newly constructed athletic center of a Division I school, IPFW.
If I avoided experiences because of fear, I would stay curled up in bed with a stack of People magazines and a box of assorted Debrand’s dark chocolate truffles. Trust me, Iâ€™ve tried it – as decadent as it sounds, even that gets old, fast.
I should mention I was in the most capable hands I know – my fatherâ€™s. He asked me to photograph his latest building project for submission to an industry magazine. Iâ€™m not an architectural photographer, but as any daughter knows – a girl will do anything for her Dad. And when that girl grows up and has two girls of her own, she’ll do anything to show them they are more powerful than their fears.
After walking the university grounds at IPFW with my dad, not only did I gain an understanding of the scope of my fatherâ€™s commercial roofing business and the passion he has for giving people jobs, but I discovered this:
The artistry that goes into the design, manufacturing and installation of the seemingly insignificant building materials we pass by every day is not unlike the artistry I employ in a life of weaving stories through photography for my clients. My fatherâ€™s work and mine share common threads of art and science, though expressed in vastly different mediums. After all these years, the apple doesnâ€™t fall far from the tree after all.
If I had said, â€śHey Dad, Iâ€™ll just shoot from the roof of that parking garage over thereâ€ť, I would have chickened out on making great images. Worse, I would have missed, from what felt like the top of the world, an opportunity to connect with the only other man (aside from Brian) who will love me for the rest of my life. I was safe with my Dad, I was doing what I love and I lived to write a blog post about it.
The next time one of your fears comes knocking, open the door, grab your camera and run towards it. Just don’t look down.